Thyroid 2006 Jan;16(1):61-6
Section of Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.
Radiation exposure at a young age is the only environmental factor known to cause thyroid cancer, predominantly of the papillary type. We have previously reported a high percentage (86.7%) of RET-positive papillary thyroid cancers in a cohort of individuals exposed to external radiation of the head and neck area before the age of 16. Recently, we and others have reported that point mutations of the BRAF gene occur with high frequency among sporadic adult papillary thyroid carcinomas, but occur at a much lower frequency in the population exposed after the Chernobyl accident. We here report that there is a similar low frequency of BRAF mutations among our cohort of those exposed to external beam radiation as children who later developed papillary thyroid cancer as adults. Samples were analyzed by mutation allele-specific amplification (MASA) for the most common T1799A mutation in exon 15 that converts amino acid 600 from valine to glutamate. In 23 cases, only 1 sample was positive. These results are further evidence that BRAF mutations, while common in sporadic adult papillary thyroid cancers, are rare events in cancers seen in subjects exposed to radiation as children.